INCLUsive Digital Economy Network+: INCLUDE+

Photo by Hannah Busing on Unsplash

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Lead Research Organisation:
University of Leeds

Exeter Investigators:
Professor Roger Maull

The uneven ways that civil liberties, work, labour and health have all been impacted over the last 18 months as we have all turned to digital technologies to sustain previous ways of life, has not only shown us the extent of inequalities across all societies as they are cut through with gender, ethnicity, age, opportunities, class, geolocation; it has also led many organisations and businesses across all three sectors to question those values they previously supported. Capitalising on this moment of reflection across industry, the public and third sectors; we explore the possibility of imagining and building a future that takes different core values and practices as central, and works in very different ways. As the roles of organisations and businesses across all industry, the public and third sectors changes, what is now taken up as core values and ethos will be crucial in defining the future.

INCLUDE+ will build a knowledge community around in/equalities in digital society that will comprise industry, academia, the public and third sectors. Responding to the Equitable Digital Society theme, we ask how we can design, co-create and realise digital services and infrastructures to support inclusion and equality in ways that enable all people to thrive. Focusing on the three connected strands of wellbeing, precarity, and civic culture; we address structural inequalities as they emerge through our research, investigating them through whole system approaches that include the generation of outputs that comprise of new systems, services and practices to be taken up by organisations. More than this, our knowledge community will be underpinned by empirical, co-curation and participatory-led research that will produce real interventions into those structural inequalities. These interventions will be taken up by organisations, responded to and considered, enabling the wider knowledge community to critically assess them in relation to the values they purport to promote. Fed by secondments and supported through smaller exploratory and escalator funds, our knowledge community will not only grow through traditional networking activities such as workshops, annual conferences, academic outputs and further funding; it will also grow through the development of interdisciplinary methods, knowledge exchange practices, and mentorship, which the secondment package will promote. In so doing, we structure our N+ around participatory research practices, people development and knowledge exchange, aiming to grow our network through the development and growth of people and good practice.

INCLUDE+ is led by a highly experienced cross-disciplinary team incorporating Management and Business Studies, Computing, Social Sciences, Media and Communication and Legal Studies. Each Investigator brings vibrant international networks; active research projects feeding the Network+; and long experience of impact generation across policy and research. With support from organisations like the International Labour Organisation, Law Commission, Cabinet Office, and Equality and Human Rights Commission as well as the existing DE community, we will develop from and with existing research, extend this work and impact beyond it. Our partner organisations cut across industry, the public and third sectors and include (for example) Lego; NHS AI Lab; Space2; mHabitat; Leeds, Cambridgeshire and Swansea Councils; PeopleDotCom; Ditchley; 5Rights; EAMA; DataKind and IBM. We have designed the Network+ to enable a whole system approach that is genuinely exciting and innovative not just because of scalability, transference and scope, but also because of the commitment to people development, knowledge exchange and interdisciplinary practice that will also shape future research.